Jewish Journal

In The Beginning…

by Tamara Shayne Kagel

November 11, 2010 | 5:43 pm

Welcome to Tattletales!  The place where I am going to reveal all the sordid details of living on the Los Angeles scene.  I will hold nothing back as I tell you about dating in LA, pursuing a writing career, and being the artsy Jewish girl at a conservative Christian law school.  Everything is fair game.

To kick-off this blog, I thought I’d start with a question I get asked all the time.  Will I date someone not Jewish?  To me, this is kind of like asking if I would date someone really poor.  I’m certainly not going to say no absolutely not.  I believe in true love and that it has nothing to do with the size of someone’s bank account.  But I’m also aware that we’d have some big obstacles to overcome first.  You don’t always have control over whom you fall in love with (believe me I know) and I suppose it’s possible I could fall in love with some bohemian who lives in poverty - maybe some attractive struggling artist in Venice who writes me poetry while I ignore the fact that he lives on welfare, uses food stamps, and knows what it’s like to panhandle. 

But let’s be honest, if you told me about this guy before I met him, I probably wouldn’t be thinking that this guy is marriage material.  And possibly I would subconsciously be less likely to even find him attractive.  I grew up ‘lower-upper class’ (yes that’s what they call it these days) and the fact is I want to provide the same opportunities for my kids that my parents gave me.  So at some point, these differences are going to come to a head in our star-crossed relationship.  Is he going to ask me to skip out on a bill when the check comes at a restaurant?  Is he going to feel comfortable when I take him to my parent’s house in a gated community at Calabasas?  Am I going to hate him one day when family dinners include dumpster diving?  I mean, I had a hard time dealing with dating someone who lived in the Valley so to make this relationship work, at some point one of us is going to have to change.  And I know already, it’s not going to be me.  I’m never going to convert to being poor.  Perhaps, my artist lover sees how important providing a good life for my family is, develops some ambition, gets an MBA and we live happily ever after.  So yes, I date poor.  But it’s going to be a lot easier if he doesn’t start out poor. 

It’s the same thing for me when it comes to religion.  I can not say that I absolutely will only marry someone Jewish.  But any guy I date that’s not Jewish is starting at a significant disadvantage.  Judaism is culturally incredibly important to me.  It’s part of my identity and therefore it will always be an important part of my life.  I was raised in it and I feel a connection to my ancestors who for thousands of years have identified in the same way.  I want my children to feel that connection also, to know their history, and to make it a part of whom they are.  It’s always easier to start a relationship with someone who comes from a similar background.  But is it possible that I fall in love with someone not Jewish?  (I’m sorry mom) but sure it’s possible. 

But for me to commit to building a life with him means that he’d have to recognize how important my religion is to me, he’d have to support my desire to raise children with a Jewish identity, and he’d have to want to be included in the Jewish aspects of my life.  So possible, but again unlikely.  So after people ask me, I usually tell them that just like I can’t say that I would never marry someone poor, I also can’t say that I would never marry a non Jew; but would it help if he were Jewish?  Definitely.  Would it help even more if he were very very rich?  Well, you can probably guess how my mother feels about that.  But let’s just say if he’s poor and not Jewish, the odds are heavily against him.

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Tamara Shayne Kagel is a twenty-something fixture on the Los Angeles scene currently living in Santa Monica.  Currently, Tamara is a successful freelance writer (just ask her...

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